Choosing to become an academic advisor is a career option that takes some degree of preparation. Since advisors may function as counselors in junior high and senior high schools as well as in colleges and universities, there are several methods to go about preparing for different advising jobs.
For the most part, an individual who wishes to become an academic advisor in a junior or senior high school will need to obtain a degree in school counseling. The degree must usually be a four-year degree directly related to counseling in schools. In addition, some school systems may require that any potential advisors in the employ of the system also have an advanced degree, perhaps even a masters or doctorate. However, many smaller systems will require a Bachelor degree related to counseling and perhaps at least some experience working within a school system.
For someone who wishes to work as an academic advisor at a college or university, the range of educational credentials and experience required is usually greater. It is not unusual for some type of doctoral degree to be among the basic qualifications before a candidate will be considered. Generally, the doctorate can be in any relevant field of counseling, although the requirements will vary from one university to another. In some locations, there is also the need to secure licensing from local jurisdictions before the candidate can be considered for a advising position.
Regarding both the school counselor and the college advisor, the ideal candidate must possess excellent communication skills. Not only must the advisor be able to articulate information clearly to students; he or she must also be able to discern the spoken and unspoken concerns of the student in relation to academic goals and how they impact aspirations for the future. This means that in order to become an academic advisor that is truly successful, the individual must be able to establish a degree of trust and rapport with the students who are counseled. For this reason, college and high school advisors are usually expected to have some experience and proficiency in interactive communications.
One of the best ways to determine how to become an academic advisor at a specific educational institution is to obtain information about the qualifications and general requirements associated with advising positions at that institution. This will make it easier to focus specifically on meeting the requirements of the organization and prepare for the job in a way that highlights the competence and the credentials of the candidate.